Check Point President : We are 'The Big Security' player

In India, Check Point is better known for its hardware appliances and end-point security than as a vendor that cuts across security products including GRC, DLP, etc. Is that the aim or is that something you want to change?

We are already focusing on being 'the big security player'. We ventured into the appliance market only four years ago from being a purely software-focused company. Now, we have a dual strategy of delivering software or full appliance.

The enterprise market has voted for appliances, and more than 85 percent of the products (unit-wise) that we sell are sourced from appliances. The major value, however, comes from software, and hence we launched the software blade architecture to deliver a comprehensive solution for security needs. We have an expansive portfolio including firewall, IPS, DLP, application control, UTM services, and an anti-bot solution. The best part is that everything is managed from the same management architecture.

It sounds like Check Point is the silver bullet Indian enterprises are looking for.

I don't think any organizations can have a silver bullet. We execute two things well: Providing infrastructure for security, and providing major functionalities in solutions. We don't aspire to be a single-point for what the customer needs and probably will not do that in future either.

Different vendors are pushing DLP differently. What's unique about your DLP strategy and why should CIOs favor your offering over the competitions?

Many CIOs concur with the need for DLP, but most solutions are expensive and take time to implement. We could have bought some company but most vendors-- including the market leader--had 150 customers. That was certainly not our intent. With over 1, 50,000 customers, we aim to have thousands of customers for DLP.

Instead we introduced a simple software blade which runs on an integrated or dedicated system. It is an inexpensive, effective, and easy to implement offering and that's a market differentiator. We are winning deals every quarter; in a market other vendors have struggled to break into for years.

Symantec's DLP is struggling against Websense, McAfee let Snapgear UTM go, and HP acquired ArcSight. It seems ever harder for multi-technology vendors to ensure market leadership for many product lines.

I don't deny that it's always a challenge to stay ahead. I think that if you have to maintain different technologies, then you need to invest a lot in knowledge. It is imperative for my people, partners, and customers to understand our technologies. We invest continuously through training programs in across geographies. We had a complaint in India about more partner training which we addressed effectively. It is a never ending journey.

The UTM landscape has fewer vendors today possibly because it threatens to become a commodity. Is UTM still a money-spinning playfield for partners?

UTM is really only a part of the solution. It is a very basic commodity with limited flexibility, which fits branch offices better than it does enterprises. With software blade architecture, every technology has individual kernels to ensure business continuity. This distinction frequently creates confusion in the market over our hardware appliance strategy. UTM is really consolidation without best-of-breed. We are in that space but delivering much more than just UTM.

With today's tighter IT budgets and a threat landscape populated with new challenges like the cloud, BYOD and virtualization, how can CIOs justify their security investments?

You can't tell when you have invested enough in security. I've always compared security investments with the army. How many tanks or airplanes do you need to ensure safety? For security, the issue is not about investing more; the idea is to invest smart. We can secure enterprise infrastructure on IPS, DLP, secure gateways with over 40 percent savings. One can add functionality through blades in an inexpensive manner and consolidate an enterprise's security posture. We clearly see a big move towards the private cloud, where we have Check Point Virtual Systems to simplify security and deliver cost savings. 'ThreatCloud' is our cloud offering which facilitates collaboration between all our gateways through real-time security intelligence.

CIOs and CSOs are perennially battling the best-of-breed versus single-vendor conundrum. What works better today and where is Check Point heading?

If you are big enough--and with constant innovation and investments in R&D--you can be a market leader and consolidate. Then there is no contradiction between consolidation versus best-of-breed. I am not declaring that we are by nature best-of-breed. But we can be best-of-breed and consolidate. Symantec or McAfee are focused on end-point security and I don't see them competing in our core business activity, which is network security.

Do new threats like BYOD and the cloud mean stretched sales cycles and lower business revenues for the channel?

There is no organization which will adopt mobility or cloud in its entirety. People continue to buy traditional models. The foremost concern around BYOD, mobility, and the cloud is not threats or malware; it's data-leakage and data-loss. CIOs are often undecided about the best way to protect mobility or the cloud amidst various products and different approaches from vendors. The market needs to be educated more and it might stretch sales cycles. Our software blade architecture really represents a massive potential for partners to do up sell in their existing accounts. I assure competent partners can double business with us if they follow up on opportunities for support, refresh of hardware and up sell of blades.

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